FORT WAYNE— As the snows came down outside, Bellmont and Concordia Lutheran made chilly waves of their own combining for 7 of 37 from beyond the arc but when the waters calmed, the Cadets owned a 59-44 non-conference victory over the Braves Tuesday night.
The win came for Concordia despite the Braves holding a 23-21 advantage at the halftime horn.
“In a 32-minute game we played well for 16 minutes," noted Bellmont coach John Baker. "They just had a great third quarter and we played behind the rest of the way.”
In that decisive third, Concordia's leading senior DJ McCall scored 10 of his game-high 22 points. The Cadets outscored the Braves 21-14 including an 11-5 run at the end of the frame that Bellmont could never recover from.
The Braves found themselves playing right with the Cadets for most of the contest thanks mostly to the career-game from junior Zack Macklin who went 8-9 from the field including all three of Bellmont's only free throw attempts in the game for a team-high 19 points.
“Zack did a great job tonight down low," Baker praised his big man. "Their big guy was out with a wrist injury so we thought it would be to our advantage to get it in the post.”
Macklin nearly had the perfect game from the field but in the fourth quarter his driving lay-up missed after what looked like a blown no-call with a lot of contact.
“That kind of performance is something you hope you get out of your juniors because we need all of our guys to take a step forward for us to be successful,” explained the Bellmont head coach.
The game was well within reach in the first four minutes of the fourth as Concordia played stall-ball while Bellmont sat in their 2-3 zone. As the Braves were forced to switch to man-to-man, the Cadets took advantage of Bellmont's attempts to gamble trying to get back into the game leading to several easy looks.
Despite going cold from the floor in the fourth, the icing on the cake for Bellmont came when McCall stole a lazy pass at mid-court and took the steal in for a two-handed slam, his third of the night, to make it 57-44 with under two minutes to play.
Free throws loomed large in stifling the Bellmont comeback as the Cadets shot a tidy 17-19 from the charity stripe.
“When you shoot 17-19 from the line like they did you’re probably going to be successful especially since we only shot three in the whole game. It was a 15-point game at the end and they made 14 more free throws than we did," analyzed Baker.
McCall and Macklin went toe-to-toe scoring four points each to start the game and a Cam Bienz triple made it 7-4. The Cadets would score the next six points as Bellmont would miss their next five shots to end the first quarter but neither team scored in the final three minutes leaving it 10-7 Concordia.
Parker Zeser, Bellmont's second-leading scorer this season, ripped a three to make it 16-13 midway through the second quarter but it would prove to be the junior's only make of the game.
“We’re still trying to get Parker involved in different ways and we tried to run him along the baseline across the screens," noted Baker. "It may have taken the legs out of him a little bit but we wanted to open things up for our guards on the outside too.”